A public rally is expected to be held in Armagh to demand the reopening of the city’s rail link.
People power will come to the fore later this year to insist the powers-that-be sit up and listen.
Organisation is at early stage.
But Armagh I can confirm that the wheels are in motion for a public show of support to have the line between Armagh and Portadown reinstated.
Consent will have to be given by a number of different authorities before the rally can proceed but the organisers are determined.
The event – which it is hoped will draw hundreds if not thousands in a real show of support – will mark the 60th anniversary of the last trains leaving Armagh.
The board of the Great Northern Railway was forced to close the last remaining lines which serviced Armagh in October of 1957.
There has been active campaigning to reopen the line in recent years.
Indeed, more than 10,000 people signed a petition which was handed in at Stormont.
Consecutive Stormont ministers have said they have the wish and will to open the railway link but unfortunately not the cash to get the job done.
The Portadown and Armagh Railway Society now wants to get the campaign back on track and force the decision-makers into action.
They intend to make 2017 a year when a newly-recharged and re-energised campaign is mounted.
PARS has now started a brief online survey to get the views of the people as part of this process.
It highlights the previous efforts to reopen the “short rail track” to Portadown and adds: “It is now felt that a further effort must be made to press home that Armagh really needs the railway, not only for the large number of commuters and students who go to Portadown to catch the train, but to bring much needed visitors to the city.
“A far greater effort is required, if our shops, restaurants and cafes are ever to greatly increase their trade.
“Armagh has many worthwhile attractions, such as our Cathedrals, Planetarium, Museums, Navan Centre etc. We feel the City could attract hundreds more tourists from all over Ireland, and the huge number of foreigners, many of whom told a survey, they do not visit Armagh, as it has no convenient rail connection.
“As traffic congestion grows, access to Belfast, particularly at rush hours, is a a major problem, UNLESS there is a rail link, that in Armagh’s case, could connect us to Belfast City Centre in as little as 40 minutes.”
The survey will only take a very short time to complete and PARS hopes to use the results as a tool to further lobby government for the reopening.
The Society – which points to the fact that the vast majority of the track is still available, something of which few seem to be aware – would ask for your support.
Please take the time to complete the survey here and let’s all play our part.
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